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Cohutta Wilderness

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Area Management

The Cohutta Wilderness is part of the 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Cohutta Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

General Wilderness Prohibitions

Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.

In a few areas some exceptions allowing the use of motorized equipment or mechanical transport are described in the special regulations in effect for a specific area. Contact the Forest Service office for more specific information.

These general prohibitions have been implemented for all national forest wildernesses in order to implement the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Wilderness Act requires management of human-caused impacts and protection of the area's wilderness character to insure that it is "unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness." Use of the equipment listed as prohibited in wilderness is inconsistent with the provision in the Wilderness Act which mandates opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation and that wilderness is a place that is in contrast with areas where people and their works are dominant.

Wilderness-Specific Regulations

Wilderness managers often need to take action to limit the impacts caused by visitor activities in order to protect the natural conditions of wilderness as required by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Managers typically implement 'indirect' types of actions such as information and education measures before selecting more restrictive measures. When regulations are necessary, they are implemented with the specific intent of balancing the need to preserve the character of the wilderness while providing for the use and enjoyment of wilderness.

The following wilderness regulations are in effect for this area. Not all regulations are in effect for every wilderness. Contact the Forest Service office for more specific information about the regulations listed.


-- Group size is limited to no more than 12 people per party, in general, or 4 people for parties further than 300 feet from a trail, the Jacks River, or Conasauga River.

-- Campfires are prohibited if more than 300 feet from a trail, the Jacks River, or Conasauga River. Within 300 feet, it is prohibited to build or use more than one campfire per campsite.

-- Campfires and alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the Jacks River Falls area.

-- Dogs must be leashed at all times.


-- Camp in designated campsites if within 300 feet of a trail, the Jacks River, or Conasauga River. If more than 300 feet from the Jacks or Conasauga Rivers, campsites cannot be larger than 400 square feet.

-- Camping is prohibited within 50 feet of any river or stream and 20 feet of any trail.

-- Overnight camping is prohibited in the Jacks Falls River Area, except from November 1 through March 31.

-- Camping is prohibited in the Jacks River area, except at designated campsites in the Beech Bottom area from November 1 through March 31.


-- Groups are limited to no more than 8 head of pack or saddle stock.

-- Pack or saddle stock must remain within 300 feet of any trail.

-- Hitching, tethering, or hobbling pack or saddle stock is prohibited within 50 feet of any water source.

-- Pack or saddle stock are prohibited on developed trails which are closed to horses. This includes the Conasauga River Trail, Rough Ridge Trail, Panther Creek Trail, Sugar Cove Trail, Chestnut Lead Trail, Tear Britches Trail, Horse Shoe Trail (North 1 Mile), Jacks River-allowed only between beech bottom/penitentiary branch, Benton Mackaye-prohibited on trail except where hemptop and Benton Mackeye Trails are the same tread for a short distance.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.

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